The 1,000 Days movement is focused on providing proper nutrition during the initial years of children’s lives, beginning with conception and leading up to when they reach two years. There is growing evidence confirming that adequate nutrition during this period can profoundly influence a child’s ability to grow, learn, and work. 

In his inspiring book, The First 1000 Days, Roger Thurow follows the lives of four families to explore the science, economics, and politics of malnutrition. His journey of observing these families charts the exciting progress of this global effort and highlights the obstacles that still hinder children from reaching their full potential.

According to experts, poor nutrition in the first 1,000 days can cause irreversible damage to a child’s growing brain, affecting his or her ability to do well in school and earn a good living—and making it harder for a child and its family to rise out of poverty. The global cost of malnutrition stands at 3.5 trillion USD per year in lost productivity and healthcare costs.

Roger Thurow shows us how three mothers tried to break the cycle of malnutrition in the first 1000 days, through a digital feature which was launched by the Chicago Council for Global Affairs. He says: “If we want to shape the future, to truly improve the world, we have 1,000 days to do it, mother by mother, child by child.”

In the feature, he highlights examples from three countries: Guatemala, India, and Uganda. The story from Uganda is that of a mother, Brenda Okullu, who actively worked in the fields where two new nutritious crops—vitamin A-enriched orange sweet potatoes and beans high in iron—were introduced to farmers by the global HarvestPlus program and its partners. Having attended the programs on 1000 days, Brenda regularly consumed the nutrient-rich crops that she grew herself when she was pregnant with her second child—her first child passed away right after birth.

Brenda gave birth to a healthy child who continued to pass all his milestones with flying colors. Brenda’s story illustrates how crucial good nutrition and a nourishing diet is from conception to a child’s second birthday. The interactive digital feature not only details the experiences of different mothers from different countries but also provides resources for taking action and tackling malnutrition across the globe.